In my latest edition of World Travellers I feature Manouk from Bunch of Backpackers. A girl with a real zest for travel and a pure passion for life as her interview and photos clearly show. And guys, she’s a bit of a babe too!
Who are you?
My name is Manouk, a small girl who did some pretty big trips! Since about a year I’m the proud owner/editor/everything of ‘Bunch of Backpackers’. When I’m not traveling I work as a medical doctor in a large university hospital.
Where are you from?
I was born in Korea and adopted to the Netherlands (My first big solo trip. Wink).
Where have you been?
In the last decade I traveled to more than 35 countries. I did two amazing (solo) backpacking trips of which the first one started in Tokyo and ended in Kuala Lumpur and the second one started in Moscow and ended in Bangkok. I also did internships in Surinam, Kenya, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
Where are you now?
I live in Rotterdam, the best city of the Netherlands with a lively artscene, great bars and many cool city events.
What are the top 3 places you’ve visited?
Tibet, Thailand and Kenya.
What is the best travel experience you’ve had?
For me the best travel moments are the ones that seem insignificant and small. For example: a total stranger who shares his fruit in the bus in India or an old Japanese couple who invites you to stay with them in a traditional Japanese inn. During my latest trips I brought a polaroid camera with me and gave portrait photo’s away to locals. This also resulted in beautiful smiles and unforgettable moments.
What is the worst travel experience you’ve had?
I’m the only one to sigh when the next destination is an island. This is not always understood, but I can get really seasick sometimes. Fortunately, the nausea never lasts long and the island is often totally worth it.
What is the funniest travel experience you’ve had?
Language barriers in general often lead to funny situations (or terrible miscommunications). Also, I once almost missed my plane because I was painting a fan at the airport. I was so concentrated on the painting and coloring that I lost track of time. Until… my name was announced through the speakers and I had to run for live to make it in time.
What is the scariest travel experience you’ve had?
In India there were times I felt a bit unsafe (being a female solo traveler). At one evening I had forgotten about the time (apparently this happens a lot) and I had to walk back to my guesthouse in the dark. However, to get there you had to go through a forest full of pilgrims who lived/camped there.
Even though nothing happened I did feel extremely vulnerable during that walk. Also, I had some pretty intense and risky situations during my time in Kenya.
What is the most random job you have had on your travels?
I once dug a pond in Tokyo’s wild bird park. How is this for ‘pretty random’ ;)?
How do you fund your travels?
I always had part-time jobs during my studies and these days I still try to save some money to travel.
What 3 tips would you give a new traveller before they set off on their adventure?
Tip 1: Just book a plane ticket and maybe an accommodation for the first night. After that, infinite freedom!
Tip 2: Learn a few words of the local language. This is not only handy, but often much appreciated as well.
Tip 3: I believe the success of a trip depends on you! So be kind, patient and open-minded. Be adventurous. Relaxed. Smile. Go left instead of right. Be curious. I promise you will have the trip of a life-time.
What are your future travel plans?
This summer I’ll do some city trips in Europe and in the winter probably a backpack trip with friends to Nicaragua. However, in the near future I hope to do the Cairo to Capetown overland trip. I hope to keep exploring, discovering and enjoying the world until I’m a very old lady!
Manouk is the founder of Bunch of Backpackers. She loves to travel to far-off destinations and then wander a bit around. She thoroughly enjoys contact with other like-minded travelers, so come say hi at the website!
Thanks to Manouk for being the latest in my series of World Travellers! If you travel the world and run a travel blog or are a travel writer, please get in touch, you can be featured (there’s a HUGE waiting list at present), either e-mail jonny (at) dontstopliving (dot) net or head to my contacts page and get connected! You can also subscribe to Don’t Stop Living by filling in the form below! Safe travels!